For the past few years, e-readers have sat near the top of many Christmas lists, and with a growing variety of models available on the market, this year is sure to be no different. Their popularity is due to their portability, ease of use and ability to hold thousands of publications at a time, from books to magazines to newspapers.
Duane Brienen, store manger of Barnes & Noble in Peoria and seller of the popular nook, is pleasantly surprised by the area’s demand for e-readers. “As a nook owner and e-reader user, I think these devices have allowed people to read more frequently. I find pockets of time, such as waiting for an oil change, when I can pull out my e-reader, which is much more convenient than carrying books around.”
There are several features to consider when deciding which device is the best fit for you, says Wendy Sheehan Donnell, who heads up PC Magazine’s consumer electronics reviews:
- Screen type. Some are easier to read then others. The e-ink displays available on some models read just like a book, even in sunlight.
- Wireless capabilities. Is a consistent wireless connection critical to the reader to download books on the fly?
- The books themselves. There is no universal file format for e-books, so each device may not read certain types of files. Also, prices of e-publications vary from bookstore to bookstore. Check out the e-bookstore of each device to help in your decision.
- Price. How much you want to spend depends on the capabilities you want your e-reader to have. The more bells and whistles on the device, the higher the price.
Here’s a brief comparison of four popular e-readers:
BARNES & NOBLE NOOK
Barnes & Noble offers its e-reader, the nook, in two models, one in color and one in black and white.
PRICE: $149-$199 (basic) or $249 (color)
SCREEN SIZE & DISPLAY: 6-inch, e-ink display on basic model; 7-inch backlit color IPS touch screen
WIRELESS OPTIONS: Wi-Fi or 3G + Wi-Fi (free)
BOOKSTORE: Barnes and Noble eBookstore and Google Books
Amazon has dominated the e-reader market with its Kindle. For specifics on the different models, visit amazon.com.
PRICE: starting at $139 up to $379
SCREEN SIZE & DISPLAY: 6 inches (basic model) or 9.7 inches (DX model) with e-ink display
WIRELESS OPTIONS: choice between Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + 3G (free)
BOOKSTORE: The Kindle Store
Borders offers its own version of an e-reader called the Kobo. Visit borders.com to compare models.
PRICE: $120 (basic) and $140 (Wi-Fi)
SCREEN SIZE & DISPLAY: 6-inch e-ink display
WIRELESS OPTIONS: Wi-Fi
BOOKSTORE: Borders eBooks
Three different models of e-readers have emerged from Sony Reader, the compact Pocket Edition, Daily Edition and Touch Edition. Visit ebookstore.sony.com/reader to view each model and details.
PRICE: $179 up to $299
SCREEN SIZE & DISPLAY: 5 to 7 inches.
WIRELESS OPTIONS: 3G + Wi-Fi only on the Daily Edition model (free)
BOOKSTORE: Reader Store and Google Books
Finally, what about the IPAD?
Technically, Apple’s iPad is a not a dedicated e-reader. It can do so much more, from web browsing and word processing to serving as your music and photo hub, and many other tasks with the help of Apple’s extensive app store.
PRICE: starting at $499 and up to $829
SCREEN SIZE & DISPLAY: 9.7 inches/Backlit IPS Color
WIRELESS OPTIONS: Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi/3G plans though AT&T (no contract required)
Consumerreports.org offers a guide to e-readers, with shopping tips, information on types and brands, and advice on getting started. iBi